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Supermarket lighting enhances nutrient level of fresh spinach

Date:
March 19, 2010
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Far from being a food spoiler, the fluorescent lighting in supermarkets actually can boost the nutritional value of fresh spinach, scientists are reporting. The finding could lead to improved ways of preserving and enhancing the nutritional value of spinach and perhaps other veggies, they suggest.

Spinach on display under 24-hour light in supermarkets actually gains in content of some nutrients.
Credit: Marc Villalobos, USDA-ARS

Far from being a food spoiler, the fluorescent lighting in supermarkets actually can boost the nutritional value of fresh spinach, scientists are reporting. The finding could lead to improved ways of preserving and enhancing the nutritional value of spinach and perhaps other veggies, they suggest in a study in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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Gene Lester, Donald J. Makus, and D. Mark Hodges note that fresh spinach is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with vitamin C, vitamin E, folate (a B vitamin), and healthful carotenoid antioxidants. Supermarkets often display fresh spinach in clear plastic containers at around 39 degrees Fahrenheit in showcases that may be exposed to fluorescent light 24 hours a day. Lester, Makus, and Hodges wondered how this continuous light exposure might affect spinach's nutritional value.

The scientists exposed fresh spinach leaves to continuous light or darkness during simulated retail storage conditions for three to nine days. Spinach stored in light for as little as three days had significantly higher levels of vitamins C, K, E, and folate. They also had higher levels of the healthful carotenoids (plant pigments) lutein and zeaxanthin. During continuous light exposure after nine days, levels of folate increased between 84 and 100 percent, for instance. Levels of vitamin K increased between 50 and 100 percent, depending on the spinach variety tested. By contrast, spinach leaves stored under continuous darkness tended to have declining or unchanged levels of nutrients, the scientists say.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gene E. Lester, Donald J. Makus, D. Mark Hodges. Relationship between Fresh-Packaged Spinach Leaves Exposed to Continuous Light or Dark and Bioactive Contents: Effects of Cultivar, Leaf Size, and Storage Duration. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2010; 58 (5): 2980 DOI: 10.1021/jf903596v

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Supermarket lighting enhances nutrient level of fresh spinach." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100303113959.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2010, March 19). Supermarket lighting enhances nutrient level of fresh spinach. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100303113959.htm
American Chemical Society. "Supermarket lighting enhances nutrient level of fresh spinach." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100303113959.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

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